Imagination of Failure: Thoughts on Islamic Radicalism by Dillon Freed

Feb. 16, 2015


It is common to hear that Islam is “hijacked” by certain fringe groups, and just after that is said, to hear that radical Muslims do not represent their religion. But when hijackers take a plane or ship, they are instantly in command and in charge of that vehicle. By extension, if a group “hijacks” a religion, for all intents and purposes, they then represent that religion. One cannot say radicals hijack Islam, but do not represent it. (cf. how the pedophiliac priests became the face of Catholicism, and usually the first thing that will come to mind if you summon up anything about the Catholic faith – I don’t think that’s fair, but one must accept that reality.)

Vast Majorities and Vast Minorities

People also often say that the “vast majority” of Muslims are peaceful people. They say this every single time that Islam is broached. It is true, no doubt, but do they ever wonder why no one ever has to state that “the vast majority of Christians are peaceful” every time Christians are brought up? It is because Christians don’t have a “vast minority” of violent practitioners, Islam does. Sure, if we mash together the histories of all Western religions, it is hard for one faith to find any secure purchase of moral superiority. But if we consider the last fifty years, only a fool would claim Islam isn’t the moral loser of the bunch. The long view of history allows for relativism; the short view should make one a hierarchicalist.

Christianity Still Evolving 

Relatedly, when the millennium-old Crusades are mentioned, the people doing the mentioning (to avoid being the pot calling the kettle black) are only making the case some of us have been making for years; namely, that Christianity has reformed itself and is currently, fundamentally different than Islam in that regard. The religious wars of the 1600s did not purify Christianity, and the idea that somehow the infighting in Islam is just some natural process religions go through, is mostly ridiculous. What changed Christianity was the distillation process of first the Renaissance, then the Enlightenment, then the Industrial Revolution, and then the Civil Rights movement. It is now being purified by the Gay Rights movement, and even more by science. In other words, it is still evolving and that is something that religion should be proud of.  Islam really needs to just begin the purification process, and these wars are not the start of it.

But Islam is a Younger Religion 

All this transformation within Christianity has occurred in 500 years, that is, since Martin Luther’s “95 Theses” split the Church in 1517. (Again, the actual reformation is even younger, as the pacifying of that religion began in the 1600s). So from one perspective, when people say “Christianity” is older and has had more time to evolve, that’s accurate, but from another view, Islam split at the inception in the 600s, and hasn’t made much progress at all – Sunnis and Shia are still battling on large scales (not small scales like was seen in Northern Ireland in 1980s).

And if bringing up Christianity from five hundred years ago is allowed, why can’t people also bring up the militancy of Islam’s founding? Both should be fair game. Why is it if we bring up Islam’s past it is either as victims of the Crusades, or of a Golden Age? Islam’s rise to power was nearly as bloody Christianity’s religious wars of the 1600s.

Quantum Leap Behind  

I have been reading a lot on quantum computers, artificial intelligence, and the like. As I read about these topics, I realize how far behind the Muslim world is. Hardly any of the studies come from those parts of the globe. And it upsets me because some of these projects need more scientists, that is, we need as many minds as possible working on these puzzles. The Muslim world is not joining yet on the scale they should. (I am aware of the many Muslims who are scientists and engineers, but if it is copacetic to criticize American Christians for being anti-science I will not hesitate to do the same to Muslims.)

Caliphate Hubris…

Many have pointed out that Muslim radicals often listen to Western music (usually rap), watch Western movies, use Western technology, Western software and Western weapons while denigrating at once the West. Islamic chauvinists then chest thump over the Islamic invention of algebra, the number 0, translated philosophical texts from Ancient times, and major advances in medicine from the distant past.  I don’t belittle these achievements, but again, they were so long ago. And I bring it up for this reason, because could you imagine if Americans and Europeans had the same sort of haughtiness about their culture as Islamic radicalism does about theirs? One could almost stop with the means to harness electricity and the creation of the Internet, but you could also add flight, wireless telegraphy, the discovery of the laws of nature, the theory of relativity, quantum mechanics, nuclear power, the automobile, steamships, printing press, internal combustion engine, telephone, light bulb, X-rays, motion pictures, pneumatic tire, penicillin, contraception, and so on. Imagine if these had been invented in the Islamic world and how insufferable bin Laden and ISIS types would be. Of course, had they invented these, they would have went through the distillation process mentioned above and not become what they are. And here is the greatest irony of them all: Radical Islam can never conquer the world unless they start to act like the scientific Western world which they hate.

Say it Right

The other day, I heard one pundit say (I paraphrase here), “those who don’t think moderate Muslims are speaking up about radical Islam, don’t have Google.” First, many minorities in Islamic nations are asking why more moderate Muslims aren’t speaking out, it’s not just the Fox News crew and conservatives. And more yet, while moderate Muslims do speak out, the world is waiting for them to speak in a certain way. I know, so picky. The people want and need unqualified renunciations and condemnations and calls for assassinating and going to war with terrorists. Most of the moderates I hear on television, condemn radical Islam about 10 percent of the time, and spend 90 percent of the time talking about the evils of US foreign policy and/or threats of Islamophobia. To prove my point, that people want bellicose denunciations of militant Islam by normal Muslims, I have watched the Right latch on to the President of Egypt’s un-BS’d remarks, and salivate at the Jordanian President’s militancy toward ISIS. In short, when moderate Muslims speak they should focus nearly 100% on killing terrorists and not on, so-far, irrational fears of Muslim bashing in the West. (Also, don’t try to change the subject, again something moderate Muslims often do, by claiming people are asking you to “apologize” for ISIS. No, they are asking you to condemn them and want you to embrace killing them.)

Where you place your values…

A day after the Charlie Hebdo attacks several people I know were mad about the fact that moderate Muslims were asked to get angry and do/say something – they didn’t feel it their place to defend Islam.  They said they shouldn’t have to do it. But when non-Muslims condemn harshly aspects of Islam, modern Muslims then vociferously condemn those condemning Islam. Also, are these moderate Muslims not, in some way, defending Islam by saying they should not have to defend Islam? Meaning, don’t they wish to keep Islam separate from terrorism by refusing to talk about terrorism? If this is the strategy, I would suggest changing it – it’s not working. To promote Islam’s peaceful nature, a moderate Muslim must ironically, never stop talking about killing terrorists – that is the most moderate and peaceful thing he or she can do.

What if Islamic Radicals were Evangelicals… 

The Left has a terrible fear of Evangelicals and looks at them as backward rednecks. They also have an idealized view of the common Muslim in the Middle East. As if they are all just kind, poor peasants like Aladdin from the Disney cartoon. But the truth is, most Muslims of the “Arab Street” might be more like the rednecks they utterly despise than the orientalized version they hold in mind. I have made this point before, but it is worth making again: If the Bible Belt states broke away as a theocracy and were after nuclear weapons, every liberal genius in New York and Washington would be calling for a total land invasion of the South. Boots would be on the ground, no negotiating. But when it comes to Iran, they think that theocratic, apocalyptic leadership acquiring nukes is something the world can live with, or at least, made a deal with.

Where do they get their inspiration then? 

When people assert “no religion condones” violence, I wonder if they have actually read the Koran or the Hadiths or interpretations thereof. Those books do condone violence – without question. One can argue about the amount of violence in varying holy books, but one fact remains: right now, the souls committing the most acts of violence are Muslims. And make no mistake: the fanatic followers of Mohammed, people petrified of burning in Allah’s hell and lusting for his heavens, know their scripture extremely well. When they butcher hordes of souls and inflict such punishments as crucifixions and burnings on them, they aren’t making up what they are doing from thin air – they have a manual. Guess what those manuals are?

Who are we inspiring? 

Those who are constantly worried that America may offend Islamists don’t seem too worried that they may be the ones who shall inspire our foes. The Left jumped all over Bush for saying he was going to go on a “crusade” after 9/11, which at least was a little macho in our yin suffocating world, but they think it is wise and chieftain-like for Obama to bring up the “Crusades” as an apology. But all Obama is in effect saying is this: The reason you hate the West is valid. Imagine Churchill declaring something akin to, “While the Nazis are wicked, let us not forget that Britain as a nation hasn’t always been perfect either, we were at fault too for the Great War.” You see, to the American or Christian, the Crusades is over; however, to the fanatic Islamists the Crusades happened yesterday, Allah’s memory is long, and the cosmic order of things is out of whack until the West and Christians are avenged, and no longer dominate the world. A well known example of this hyperthymesia is that the attack on 9/11/2001 was exactly 318 years after the 9/11/1683 attack on Vienna, which Muslims lost.

What Does ISIL Stand For? 

After watching the Executive Branch’s news conference, I wondered what would happen if you asked the Obama administration what does ISIL or ISIS, terms which they use frequently, stand for? Would they say Fanatical Religious State in the Levant? They cannot even reference Islam when it comes to terrorism yet they are doing so anyway by saying ISIL and ISIS.


Speaking of Islamophobia, if you hear someone use that term in my contexts today, what you are really hearing that person declare is that he or she is Westernphobic. The truth is, such persons who employ this term frequently are irrationally fearful that hordes of Western civilians will flagrantly and acausally attack Muslims. This despite the fact that since 9/11 nothing like this (save in Norway in which there was a horrendous and despicable attack on so-called Islamic sympathizers) has even remotely happened. Indeed, to say the “vast majority of Muslims are not violent” often means “I want to make sure Muslims aren’t wantonly attacked by Westerners who secretly wish to do so.” So far, there is no proof that this is a threat – if it changes I will be the first condemning it.

Imagination of Failure

Every time something goes wrong in America, some unthinking politician or talking head will blurt out “it was a failure of imagination.” But the truth is, it seems that many in the US government have an “imagination of failure” – they don’t think we can beat radical Islam, but only hope to contain it, retreat from it, and ignore it. There is a myth that warns us about this: evil doesn’t stay in a box.